Sun Cable to stretch country's ambition: Cannon-Brookes

·3-min read
Mick Tsikas/AAP PHOTOS

A consortium led by Mike Cannon-Brookes' Grok Ventures says Sun Cable has the potential of being a nation-building project for Australia, after successfully bidding for it.

FTI Consulting announced on Friday that Helietta Holdings 1, an entity affiliated with Grok Ventures, would acquire substantially all of Sun Cable's assets after news of the day leaked a day earlier.

The price of the transaction was not disclosed but FTI said it expected all of Sun Cable's unsecured creditors would be paid in full.

The plan is to continue progressing the project under the scope of its original vision, collecting Northern Territory sunshine via a massive 120 sq km solar farm and transmitting 1.8 gigawatts to Singapore through the world's longest undersea power cable.

The project is expected to cost upwards of $35 billion and would supply 15 per cent of Singapore's electricity needs.

Quinbrook Infrastructure Partners joined Grok in bidding for the deal and the parties said they would have more to say in coming weeks about its design and development priorities.

Mr Cannon-Brookes said it was a big step in the right direction.

"We've always believed in the possibilities Sun Cable presents in exporting our boundless sunshine, and what it could mean for Australia," the billionaire founder of software company Atlassian, said in a statement.

"It's time to stretch our country's ambition.

"We need to take big swings if we are going to be a renewable energy superpower.

"So swing we will."

David Scaysbrook, the Australian-based co-founder and managing partner of Quinbrook, said it was pleased to have helped take Sun Cable out of administration.

It went into administration following disagreements between Mr Cannon-Brookes and its other backer, Fortescue Metals non-executive chairman Andrew Forrest.

Mr Forrest's renewable energy company ultimately did not submit a binding offer for Sun Cable and congratulated Mr Cannon-Brookes on his winning bid, while casting doubt on the project.

Squadron Energy decided the capital allocation did not align with its strategic goals, as it already has a 20GW pipeline of renewable energy assets it believes it can bring online faster to help meet the federal government's target of 82 per cent renewables by 2030.

"We remain unconvinced of the commercial viability of the Australia-Asia Powerlink but if others believe it can be achieved, we wish them all the best," Mr Forrest said in a statement.

In contrast, Mr Scaysbrook said Sun Cable was a visionary undertaking by any measure and a project of global significance.

"Quinbrook will focus on delivering on the opportunity afforded by northern Australia's abundant solar and wind energy resources and showcasing the important and complementary role that the world's most advanced storage technologies can offer in supplying energy-intensive industry with reliable and competitively priced, carbon-free power solutions," Mr Scaysbrook said.

Quinbrook invests in sustainable infrastructure, including the largest-ever solar and energy storage projects being developed in the US and UK.

The transaction is expected to be completed by the end of July, FTI said.

NT Chief Minister Natasha Fyles said the Australia-Asia Power Link project retained major project status and the government recognised its significance for the territory and region.